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Battling the heat inside the cockpit

Staff writers

July 20, 2012 — Before drivers can consider the competition on the track, they have to deal with the extreme heat inside their race cars. The Weather Network's Carrie Olver finds out what it's like inside a 50 degree cockpit.

Racers given water at every pit stop. Photo courtesy: NASCAR
Racers given water at every pit stop. Photo courtesy: NASCAR

Scorching temperatures, dehydration and fatique.

Drivers say battling the heat inside their car can be worse than the actual race itself.

"When you're sitting in a race car and the engine makes 600+ horsepower, all that heat radiates back through the fire wall to where you're sitting," says professional race car driver Ron Fellows. "You're wearing a heavy racing suit, non-breathable, a helmet, gloves, essentially prepared for the winter, but it's 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celcius) inside the car."

Every driver has a different level of tolerance to the heat, but Fellows says it's all about prepping in terms of hydration.

"You go to extra lengths days before the race, drinking lots of water and recovery drinks."

Racers are able to stay hydrated at every pit stop, but they're also equipped with an on-board water system hooked up to their helmets.

"Drinking water during the race is crucial," says Fellows. "You recognize physically when you're getting a little over heated and when it's time to reduce the amount of energy that you're expending driving the car and keep drinking the fluids."

A new owner of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Track, Fellows says him and his partner want to ensure proper race car safety at the track. They're also working to upgrade the facility located north of Bownmanville, Ontario.

"We want to create a place where not only can we get the facility itself into the 21st century in terms of corporate entertaining, but we want to try and add more events," says Fellows.

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